Blue Jays pick LLWS star Danner in Round 2

Toronto plans to develop hard-throwing righty as catcher

June 13th, 2017

TORONTO -- Hagen Danner and Nick Pratto won a Little League World Series together. They won a high school league championship together and now they're members of the same MLB Draft Class.

Danner and Pratto are two well-known teammates from Huntington Beach High School in California. Pratto was taken by Kansas City with the 14th overall pick of the 2017 Draft, and Danner's time came later Monday night when Toronto picked him at No. 61.

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These two players have done just about everything together on the baseball field, including winning a gold medal with the USA Baseball 18U National Team in Japan. Professionally, they are about to go their separate ways, but before that happens there was another experience to share: Draft Night.

The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

Blue Jays' 22nd overall: Logan Warmoth

Blue Jays' 28th overall: Nate Pearson

"Yeah, 100 percent," Pratto said when asked if it was easier to go through this process with a friend. "He's been my best friend for almost 10 years now, and it's special to have something like that."

There's a feel-good story to all of this, but what intrigues the Blue Jays the most is what Danner can do behind the plate. The 18-year-old was good enough to be drafted as either or pitcher or catcher, but the Blue Jays decided to go with the latter, passing on the 90-94 mph fastball.

At catcher, his arm strength will be an asset, and he reportedly has good hands with above-average athleticism. The power is clearly there as evidenced by his 12 homers, which broke D-backs catcher Hank Conger's single-season school record.

Danner spent more time in the weeks leading up to the Draft showcasing himself as a pitcher -- with a 90-94 mph fastball as the standout -- but he was committed to UCLA as a catcher and that's where he will end up, if signed, in the Blue Jays' organization.

"From talking to him, I think it's a mutual decision," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Steve Sanders said. "Hagen likes catching. We're certainly going to talk to him more about it, but we see him as a strong catcher both defensively and offensively. We had scouted him both ways, but we're excited to send him out as a catcher and see what he can bring to the organization."

An early highlight of Danner's career was catching at the 18U Gold Medal Game for USA Baseball in Japan. He hit .350 and led his high school team with 40 RBIs in 33 games. That helped earn him a spot as the No. 41 prospect in the Draft according to's rankings.

"He's one of the most electric two-way players in the nation," JSerra Catholic High School coach Brett Kay told the OC Register. "He intimidates other teams."

The 61st overall pick comes with a recommended slot value of approximately $1 million. Toronto has a bonus pool of $8,231,000, which ranks 13th overall in this year's Draft.